Karnataka NEP referred 'Pythagoras Theorem' as fake news

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A position paper on National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 by the Government of Karnataka has described Pythagoras' theorem as "fake news".

Important facts

  • The Pythagorean theorem has been disputed in many international forums. Pythagoras claimed this to be his theory.

  • The Karnataka NEP mentions a text called the Baudhayana Sulbasutra, in which the specific verse refers to the theorem.

About Pythagoras

  • Based on evidence, the existence of the Greek philosopher Pythagoras is believed to be around 570–490 BC.

  • However, it is believed that mysterious elements were present around him, because of the secretive nature of the school/society he founded in Italy.

  • Relatively little is known about his mathematical achievements, as no evidence exists of his own writing today.

What is Pythagoras Theorem?

  • The Pythagorean theorem describes the relationship between the three sides of a right triangle (one of which is 90°).

  • Its Equation is a² + b² = c²

  • where a and b are the two perpendicular sides, and c is the length of the diagonal side.

  • If any two sides of a right triangle are known, the theorem helps you calculate the third side.

Reasons why Vedic mathematicians knew this before Pythagoras?

  • There are several references in the Sulbasutra, which are written by Vedic Indians and refer to the rituals performed during yaganas.

  • The oldest of these is the Baudhayana Sulbasutra. 

  • The period of Baudhayana Sulbasutra is not certain. It is inferred on the basis of linguistic and other secondary historical considerations.

  • In more recent literature, the Baudhayana Sulbasutra is taken from around 800 BCE.

  • There is a statement in the Baudhayana Sulbasutra called the Pythagorean theorem (this was known as a geometric fact, not a 'theorem').

  • Yagya rituals included the construction of altars (altars) and fire pits (fire) in various shapes such as isosceles triangles, symmetrical trapezia and rectangles.

  • The Sulabasutras describe the effort towards producing the prescribed shape of these figures.

How did the Knowledge of Equation Evolve?

  • The earliest evidence is from the Old Babylonian civilization (1900–1600 BC). They referred to this as the diagonal rule.

  • The earliest evidence comes from the later period of the Sulbasutras.

  • The oldest surviving axiomatic proof of the theorem is in Euclid's Elements from about 300 BC.

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